Was Ven Maha Boowa an arahant and why?

Continuing the discussion from Mae Chee Kaew's anagami fruition:

you think Ven Maha Boowa was an arahant? did he exhibit any signs of that or is it just popular opinion? and why specifically an arahant, why not a noble disciple of lower levels? they’re quite rare and reputable too

i have a feeling that populace is very generous in conferring sainthood

I think the populace covers a wide spectrum – from those that feel you can become an arahant on a weekend to those that hold standards the Buddha himself would find impossible to uphold.

I don’t see it as the result of popular opinion – rather popular opinion reflects the view of the monastic community in which he lived. Certainly, based on his talks, he felt that he was and I don’t think he would have spoken openly about this without being quite certain. It also seems likely he would have discussed this with others. He did after all live within the context of a living lineage and there were others within this tradition which were also considered arahants.

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My gut feeling is that he wasn’t an arahant but was quite sure he was. The way that the Venerable Maha Boowa was quite involved in the Thai politics, using the language that was pretty apalling, and his peculiar theory of citta is also pretty odd. That said, I still think he was a pretty accomplished master standing high above us.


Dhamma Greetings Vstakan,

can you elaborate on that a bit?

Best Whishes

Here’s a quick summary about “the citta that does not die”. You can read many of his books on line.

‘Being intrinsically bright and clear, the citta is always ready to make contact with everything of every nature. Although all conditioned phenomena without exception are governed by the three universal laws of anicca, dukkha, and anattã, the citta’s true nature is not subject to these laws. The citta is conditioned by anicca, dukkha, and anattã only because things that are subject to these laws come spinning in to become involved with the citta and so cause it to spin along with them. However, though it spins in unison with conditioned phenomena, the citta never disintegrates or falls apart. It spins following the influence of those forces which have the power to make it spin, but the true power of the citta’s own nature is that it knows and does not die. This deathlessness is a quality that lies beyond disintegration. Being beyond disintegration, it also lies beyond the range of anicca, dukkha, and anattã and the universal laws of nature. …’


I don’t want to venture any opinions on whether Venerable Maha Boowa was or was not an arahant, since I doubt that anyone who, like me, is not an arahant has a reliable ability to recognize arahantship is anyone else for certain. But it does occur to me that the answer to the question doesn’t necessarily depend on whether or not he had a correct theory of citta.

Spiritual perfection is not the same thing as philosophical omniscience, nor would I think the former entails the latter. So it seems to me that it would be entirely possible for a person to have achieved the goal of the holy life - a fully liberated and purified mind with all asavas destroyed - without being able to give a perfectly correct philosophical explanation of what their own perfected state actually consists in, and what mental factors constitute it. After all, according to the Buddha even some 7 year olds are capable of arahantship, although such enlightened beings presumably lack a complete grasp of many fairly elementary concepts, not to mention the deep concepts necessary to describe and explain their own fully ennobled condition.


I think Venerable Maha Boowa is an accomplish teacher.
I do not think that he declare himself an Arahant to any lay person.

Whether he is an Arahant or not the following advise should be remembered.

Bhikkhus, even with a teacher who is concerned with material things, an heir to material things, attached to material things, such haggling by his disciples would not be proper: ‘If we get this, we will do it; if we don’t get this, we won’t do it’; so what should be said when the teacher is the Tathāgata, who is utterly detached from material things?



Many monks that externally appear ‘illumined’ express pretty odd & conflicting views about Buddhism therefore I doubt this is a criterion. These differences could just be skillful means pertaining to the audience.

Could you provide an example?

Ajahn Jayasaro (who appears to be no slouch) expressed the common view in a video that Maha was a arahant or, more specifically, was the go-to monk to confirm claims to arahantship.

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That’s not a very good sign - it actually indicates that this is a very important thing to examine.

[quote=“mikenz66, post:5, topic:3416”]
the citta never disintegrates or falls apart…the true power of the citta’s own nature is that it knows and does not die. This deathlessness is a quality that lies beyond disintegration…[/quote]

How does the above quote of Maha Boowa reconcile with the sutta excerpts below: :penguin:

The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this is called the Deathless. SN 45.7

A sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die, is unagitated and is free from longing. He has nothing whereby he would be born. Not being born, will he age? Not aging, will he die? Not dying, will he be agitated? Not being agitated, for what will he long? MN 140

The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already. Dhp 21

On seeing a form with the eye…he dwells with body-mindfulness established, with unlimited awareness…having thus abandoned compliance & opposition, he doesn’t relish any feeling he feels… as he doesn’t relish that feeling, doesn’t welcome it & doesn’t remain fastened to it, delight doesn’t arise. From the cessation of his delight comes the cessation of clinging. From the cessation of clinging comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging-&-death…all cease … MN 38


I’m not sure what you mean by “reconcile”. Do you think the sutta quotes agree or disagree with Maha Boowa?

Yes. I was asking your opinion do you think the sutta quotes agree or disagree with Maha Boowa?


They’re your sutta quotes, so you can go first.


Sariputta, even if you have to carry me about on a bed, still there will be no change in the lucidity of the Tathagata’s wisdom. MN 12

Your turn now to spin or tilt the dhamma wheel. :slight_smile:

Back to the topic, while I acknowledge my complete incapacity to ascertain whether Luangta was or not an arahant I do keep a special place in my heart and mind to what he had to say about the Dhamma. I “file” his approach under the category of fruitful but painful practices as listed in AN4.162.

Dear Friends

If I remember correctly Ajahn Jayasaro has a talk where he states that Ajahn Maha Bua gave a talk to some monks where he claimed to be an Arahant, this talk was recorded and saw public light many years afterwards, Ajahn Jayasaro ponders over if this development was beneficial or not given the Vinaya prohibition to direct this claims to lay people.

I think an Arahant understands very well Dependent Origination and the Four Noble Truths, actually this might be the hallmark of such a high attainment. Does anyone have any references of Ajahn Maha Bua talking about this?

SN 12.72

“Bhikkhus, those ascetics or brahmins who do not understand birth … existence … clinging … craving … feeling… contact … the six sense bases … name-and-form … consciousness sn.ii.130 … volitional formations, their origin, their cessation, and the way leading to their cessation: these I do not consider to be ascetics among ascetics or brahmins among brahmins, and these venerable ones do not, by realizing it for themselves with direct knowledge, in this very life enter and dwell in the goal of asceticism or the
goal of brahminhood.

“But, bhikkhus, those ascetics and brahmins who understand these things: these I consider to be ascetics among ascetics and brahmins among brahmins, and these venerable ones, by realizing it for themselves with direct knowledge, in this very life enter and dwell in the
goal of asceticism and the goal of brahminhood.”



Unfortunately, the relevant article was deleted from the website I read it on as well as quotes from it in the Wikipedia. I think you can google it if you want.

Ajahn Jayasaro is certainly no slouch but I think in this specific case he is wrong. Anyway, this is only my personal opinion that it not binding for anyone.

Agreed. That’s why I said it was only my gut feeling that is not necessarily true. However, when a supposed arahant says something weird about citta that is not to be found in the Suttas except ifor a couple of obscure bits, I get a bit concerned.

I vaguely recall what Maha said. I did not think so badly of it since famous Thai monks of his generation have been known to make political comments about the (characteristic) government corruption. They are called ‘Luang Por’ (‘grandfather’) in Thailand, indicating a paternal social role, rather than a ‘Bhante’.

Well, to say Nibbana is not anicca, dukkha & anatta seems OK since Nibbana is only anatta. Maha seemed to apply this same principle to the citta of an arahant, which is permanently enlightened & satisfactory (not dukkha). Maha did use the 3 characteristics collectively. In other words, if he explicitly & exclusively said the enlightened citta is not anatta, this would certainly be problematic.

In SN 3.11 the Buddha has said that to assure someone is an Arahant or not, we have to live and associate with him/her closely and for a long time. So, I think, we cannot assure if Ven Maha Boowa is an Arahant or not, unless we have lived and associate with him closely and for a long time, which is now not possible for us.


to be sure we cannot, therefore the claim to arahantship must be born out by accounts of people who knew or better yet just met him personally or spent some time in his company (close and long-trem associates might be biased), enough to be able to get impression of his conduct and way of thinking or maybe even have some spiritual experience in his presence, although i’m not sure if arahants must or can inspire such

and i was actually expecting Frankk to share his reasons for referring to Ven Maha Boowa as arahant